Maxwell inspires maiden Royals win

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Glenn Maxwell kick-started the Royals’ Friends Life t20 campaign at Canterbury.

The Aussie all-rounder smashed a spectacular 66 not out from 32 balls to claim a six-wicket south group triumph over Kent Spitfires yesterday.

And with it the Victorian, who has been playing Southern Electric Premier League cricket for South Wilts, chalked up Hampshire’s first t20 victory of the campaign.

After their opening fixture against Sussex Sharks was abandoned, the Royals suffered consecutive defeats to Middlesex and Kent.

But yesterday they were back on song – showing just why they were champions in 2010 and semi-finalists last term.

The Spitfires would have been confident of netting back-to-back wins over Hampshire after Darren Stevens’ 44-ball 60 had propelled them to 135 for six.

Stevens clubbed four sixes and three fours as he put his side in control on a bowler-friendly wicket.

Kent were further buoyed after the break when they removed in-form Royals opener Michael Carberry for just six.

And after Jimmy Adams (31) and James Vince (17) had briefly got the chase back on track, the Royals were reeling once again at 59 for four.

Enter Maxwell – and an instant impact.

The Melbourne Renegades blaster smashed his fifth ball high over extra cover for six to light the blue touchpaper for a firecracker of an innings.

In the next over he pulled Adam Ball for a second six but it was in the 14th over the 23-year-old Australian all-rounder really pressed the accelerator.

With off-spinner Tredwell being kept in the attack by Kent captain Rob Key, three more driven sixes and a reverse-sweep four by Maxwell meant 23 runs came from the over and Hampshire, suddenly, needed just a run-a-ball to win.

Maxwell, however, was only just getting going.

He then turned his attention to Matt Coles, hitting him for his third four to reach 50 from just 22 balls and in 14 minutes.

The Australian was controversially denied another six in the 17th over when he pulled Azhar Mahmood high over the mid-wicket rope only for Ball to leap into the air, catch the ball and then fling it back on to the field of play while still airborne.

Hampshire captain Mascarenhas came on to the field to query the decision, as Maxwell was credited with just one run for his big hit.

But umpires Martin Bodenham and David Millns ruled that Billings’ feet had not touched the turf before he released the ball.

Maxwell reacted to the umpires’ decision by hitting Coles for two more sixes, while Sean Ervine also slashed a full toss square on the offside for four in an 18th over – which cost another 17 runs.

The match was then wrapped up when, with just six runs required, Maxwell hit the first two balls of the 19th over both for four.